What is an Eco-Friendly Vehicle?
An eco-friendly vehicle is a car that has less of an environmental impact than average automobiles on the market; generally this means fewer emissions. These vehicles can run off less gas or another source of energy completely.
Because the eco-friendly cars that do run on gas release fewer emissions, this means that they are more fuel-efficient than the norm. They are also touted as being more efficient, reliable, and as requiring less maintenance than their petrol-run counterparts.
Here are the most common types of eco-friendly cars:
Hybrid cars are a type of car that utilizes both gas-combustion and battery power to run. When a driver is driving in town, which involves lots of stopping and going action, a hybrid will primarily use the electric motor. When the hybrid begins coasting (on a highway, for example), the battery is designed to be charged by the continuous motion of the wheels.
While hybrid vehicles do use gas, with the help of the battery, it is much less than the average petrol-run car. This reduces emissions and increases fuel-efficiency.
Characteristics of hybrid cars:
- More quiet than conventional cars
- The gas engine used is much smaller than regular vehicles
- Can be more expensive than regular vehicles
- Generally more complex than the average car, which may mean higher-priced repairs
- May have a feature called “regenerative braking”. This charges the battery when the brakes are used and also results in less brake-wear
Electric cars, like hybrids, also run on rechargeable batteries. This type of vehicle however, uses no combustion engine and therefore does not emit any emissions.
It is reported that the “store chemical energy” in the battery packs of these vehicles are much more efficient than combustion engines. Additionally, electric vehicles only cost approximately 2-4 cents/mile to run.
Characteristics of electric cars:
- They produce no exhaust, emissions, or noxious fumes
- More quiet than conventional cars
- Many types of electric cars also feature regenerative breaking (like hybrids)
- Can usually travel hundreds of miles without being recharged, but this depends on the driver’s style, type of battery used, as well as the weight and size of the vehicle
Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Cars
The development of hydrogen fuel-cell cars has been excitedly awaited in the media. These cells are “a clean, reliable, quiet, and efficient” method to generate electric power. While these types of vehicles are great for the environment, there are a few consumer drawbacks:
- Lack of hydrogen refuelling stations make them inconvenient (they only exist in certain areas of the country and are extremely expensive to build)
- When compared to electric cars, hydrogen fuel-cell cars are very expensive (selling for approximately $60,000)
- Hydrogen fuel cells are also very expensive (ten times more so than their electric counterparts), which makes them “too cost-prohibitive” to really break into the market
Solar cars are the new rage in the eco-friendly automobile world, however there is still much development to be done with them. While solar cars release absolutely no emissions or noxious fumes, there are a few large problems that have prevented them from becoming viable options in the auto industry. These include:
- Possible issues when driving in sunless weather conditions (or at night)
- Fragile solar cells mean great potential for damage
- Being engineered for “function, not comfort”
If these issues can be resolved, we may very well see solar cars increasing in popularity during the coming years.